Here’s an interesting thought. What if you were told that everything in your life has already been planned out?
Even stranger, what if your past, present, and future are all happening right at this moment?
An astonishing new theory known as the “block universe” theory claims that time does not actually “flow like a river”, but rather, everything is ever-present.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor of philosophy Dr. Bradford Skow suggests that if we were to “look down” on the universe as if we were looking on a piece of paper, we would see time spread out in all directions, exactly the same way we see space at a given moment.
Are we only experiencing time as intrinsically linear because it’s what our human brains are capable of comprehending?
Let’s get a little more in-depth in this fascinating new theory and what it could possibly mean to our existence.
The “Block Universe” Theory
Dr. Skow is not the first scientist to challenge the way we all perceive time.
In 1915, Einstein introduced a theory of a unified space and time. In his general theory of relativity, he proposes that space-time takes form in a manifold or continuum way. And that if viewed, you’ll see both as a four-dimensional vector space. And this vector is known as the “block theory.”
“The distinction between past, present and future is only a stubbornly persistent illusion.”
Einstein’s theory is considered to be the closest to the true answer of what the universe means on a cosmological sense. So it is not unreasonable to think of a block universe as actually existing.
Dr. Skow fully supports this theory. Instead of thinking that time and events sail past us and then completely vanishes, perhaps we should think that they still exist and are existing simultaneously in different parts of space-time. It’s just that we can’t access anything outside of this block we are in.
Once you try to wrap your head around this theory, you’ll begin to realize that it could also change the way we think of time travel.
If this theory is real, then we can’t simply travel time and change it. If everything is happening simultaneously — your past, present, future laid out in space — then it would be impossible to create “grandfather paradoxes.”
You wouldn’t be making any catastrophic changes. Instead, you will only travel through time and experience it as it is and as it always would be.
The “Mirror Universe” Theory
Dr. Skow’s new theory was also recently followed by another equally controversial one.
UK physicist Dr. Julian Barbour and other scientists believe that when the Big Bang happened, the universe created a mirror universe.
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And get this — in this mirror universe, time goes backward.
In this twin universe, people wake up from death, live out their old age and wait to be young enough to start a career, then go to school. Sounds completely strange, doesn’t it?
But if this theory is real, it might be the answer to the most stubborn physics questions we currently have.
What happened to all the antimatter after the universe’s Big Bang? And why does time only move in one direction? This might be a little counterintuitive to the block universe theory, but it does answer some of our most bugging fundamental physics questions.
We all think of time in terms of entropy. Entropy is the amount of disorder in one system that will eventually break itself down. It exists in everything — our bodies, our computers, all our engines. And when this entropy grows exponentially — which it always does — it will consume its system.
In 2014, Caltech Professor Sean Carroll and his graduate student, Jennifer Chen, decided to look at time differently. They looked at it in terms of gravity.
What they found gave proof that the mirror universe might actually exist by looking at 1,000 particles and using Newtonian physics.
All of these new radical theories are fun to think and talk about. But if one of them is true, then even more questions will arise.
If time was ever-present, then is there hope for evolution in the sense we are familiar of? Then what is the purpose and meaning of life if we are existing as it is, without hopes for deviation?
Debates on time will always continue in this sense. And it is a wonder if we are ever going to unlock any of the answers, more so if we can fully comprehend them.
But perhaps the magic isn’t in knowing the answer, but in the journey of finding them. It is, perhaps, our way to understanding our existence.